dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
[ profile] melishus_b and her boyfriend came to visit us this weekend! And I've written about it in detail below.

detail, with pictures )

Next weekend we should see them again, since we'll be in Seattle for a wedding! Just like old times, at least for a brief moment.
dorchadas: (Warcraft Won't Stop Searching)
Listening to the latest episode of Vidjagame Apocalypse yesterday and they had a brief section about Night in the Woods, the adventure game about snake person angst, and included a cover of one of the songs from the protagonist's band:

I played it for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and gave a summary of the premise as I knew it, since I knew she'd understand. She's from Paducah, and as a child she had the goal to just get out in the way that I think a lot of kids from rural areas do. I'm from the Chicago suburbs, so it never affected me the same way, but I know people who lived in those dying towns before they moved away. The factories have closed, the malls are ghost towns, and people work retail because that's all that's available and mark off the days on the calendar. I mentioned that the protagonist and her friends hang out at the hardware store for lack of anywhere else to go, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd nodded sagely.

I'm leaning towards buying the game based on how much I liked that song, honestly.

Farmer's Market Dinner )

For class, we were supposed to discuss an article but Aya-sensei forgot to email me, so we just chatted for an hour (and I did okay! Weeee smiling happy face). We're doing the article next week, though--an essay by Hirano Keiichirō entitled 無常ということ (mujou to iu koto, "On impermanence"), about the changes Kyōto has undergone, efforts against that, and what the "real Kyōto" is anyway.

One part stood out to me:
Which I would translate as
Much like humans die, buildings will crumble. Much like people change, the scenery will ceaselessly change. Surely to console that desperate existential dread, is that not why we must build temples and shrines in such huge numbers as eternal sacred spaces?
At what point does preservation become killing something and preserving it in amber? At what point does change destroy that which came before and make something completely new? I'm sure the people in the dying rural towns, both here and in Japan, would prefer there had been a bit less change, even if younger people are moving to those towns sometimes.

I haven't finished the essay, so I can't answer those questions. Question block

Death panels

2017-May-05, Friday 09:13
dorchadas: (In America)
I was a bit surprised that Deathcare passed yesterday, but not as much as I once would have been. There is no depths of evil to which the American fascists* can sink that would surprise me anymore. Especially after reading all the testimonies from American fascists* who voted for it without reading it and then were astonished to learn they voted to murder hundreds of thousands of their own constituents slowly with bankruptcy along the way. Emoji stabbing I was a little mollified to hear that the Senate won't even be considering the bill until it's CBO scored, and possibly not at all, but since all American fascists* are human garbage I have no faith they won't also vote to murder their constituents.

I think there's an important lesson to be taken from their behavior as well. Real evil isn't charismatic, visionary, or commanding. It's smug, banal, hypocritical, and kind of stupid. We need more depictions of realistic evil in fiction.
"We have to live with people as they are, and people are dangerous."
-Rabbi Joshua Haberman, Foundation for Jewish Studies podcast
I have excellent health insurance through work and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is a public employee, so while I spent most of yesterday in a state of pure rage I at least don't have to be afraid. Instead, I spent it wasting my time debating a libertarian crypto-Confederate on [ profile] jmenda's Facebook wall about the necessity of taxation, especially as it relates to allowing an expansive government with the capability to enforce the rights of the oppressed--the Slavers' Rebellion, the Civil Rights Act, Obergefell v. Hodges, etc. As it so often is, it was a complete waste of time and I should have just played Majora's Mask all night instead of constantly tabbing over to answer questions. I'm halfway done--just beat Snowhead Temple on Wednesday--and I want to finish this weekend if I can.

Tonight is [ profile] kelley.christensen1's emoji-themed karaoke birthday party and it's without walking distance from our apartment, so I'll have something else to concentrate on. It's box karaoke, and while I'm not going to link the website because I just went there and they've been hacked (thank you NoScript Emoji La), but it looks promising. I'm not sure they'll have all the songs that I sang in karaoke korokke or karaoke U-style or karaokekan, but hopefully they'll have something. And [ profile] kelley.christensen1 is bringing cake!

Alright, back to mucking around in databases.

March Update

2017-Mar-18, Saturday 18:43
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Just a grab-bag of things that have been happening lately.

I got my yearly bonus and annual raise this week. Higher than average on both, because we managed to exceed our department goals by a respectable amount and I did pretty well. There also wasn't as much pressure to hold down salary increases this year, so I got more of a salary increase and less of a bonus. And I put it all into tax withholding and 401K contributions. Well...that's responsibility. Emoji Dragon Warrior march

Yesterday was also the last day that we're using the old database system, and over the weekend they'll be switching over to the new system that they've spent the last two years working on. And true to software project form, it was a complete mess until the last week, where it was pulled into at least semi-reasonable condition. That also meant that I couldn't do anything involving the database on Friday, and since my work almost entirely involves editing database entries, I had to make work for myself. On a co-worker's suggestion, I did some prep work so that when the new database is up and able to accept new entries, I can go add in all the disciplinary actions to the appropriate physician records without having to scan through state board orders for what the doctors did wrong. Unless the database upgrade doesn't go well, in which case everything will be on fire. Emoji on fire Hopefully it all goes smoothly, but these are computers we're talking about.

Today was the first session of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's 7th Sea 2e game! I read the book through to make sure I knew the system and I had some misgivings--it's much more loose and narrative-styled than the systems I tend to prefer--but in play it worked out really well! And doing a silly Russian accent and coughing at the republican and revolutionary talk for my Ussuran nobleman was a lot of fun. He's not that great in a fight, but he has magical powers. He's also really rich, which is kind of like a magical power! The star moment was when I called a raven to our jail cell where, we had been treacherously imprisoned for a crime we didn't commit, and asked it to fetch the keys in exchange for a bauble from my nobleman's clothing. I then let everyone out, locked the cells behind us, and left. The legend grows.

I paid our 2016 taxes. Last year we owned an enormous amount because I forgot to take into account [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's new job and thus that our salary was commensurately larger. This year I spent more time modeling our income vs. taxes paid and I came a lot closer--we owed 4% of what we owed last year, in terms of additional payments beyond our normal withholding. I'm not sure how much we'll owe on state taxes, but the state is usually much better at figuring out how much we owe than the federal government is and we rarely get a large refund or have a large deficit, so I'm not that worried. Edit: We owed more on state taxes than federal taxes. Looks like I spoke too soon! Emoji Shaking fist

We're going to see Hamilton on Thursday. I've successfully avoided most news about it, so while of course I know the subject matter and the characters, I haven't listened to a single song all the way through, nor do I know what parts of history the musical covers. I'll probably write about it after I go, but until then, it's a mystery! Emoji tali it is a mystery
dorchadas: (Death Goth)
While nowadays I listen mostly to synthwave, chiptunes, and video game soundtracks, my playlists used to almost entirely consist of goth music. I picked Philadelphia for university without realizing that it was the headquarters for Dancing Ferret Discs, the record label for a lot of the bands I listened to--and probably named after the Dancing Ferret in the Borderlands series, something I didn't realize until recently--so I spent a good portion of time at places like Dracula's Ball. Then I got older, my tastes changed. It happens.  photo shrug2.gif

However, on the way to work I listen to music-based podcasts because I don't want to try to pay attention to a talk podcast over the noise of the L, and one of the podcasts I listen to is Communion After Dark, which is goth music, of course. A couple weeks ago they had a song that kept making me rewind to listen to it again, and when I got home I looked up the song and found the music video, and it may be the single most profound encapsulation of the goth scene in one video I've ever seen:

It starts off with the band making soulful gestures with profound gazes, on a black background, from the shoulders up. The lyrics are pure "you don't understand us, we are too deep for you":
We're nothing like you
A wall in black
We're nothing like you
And you don't get who we are

We're nothing like you
We dare the flow
We're nothing like you
And you don't know who we are

In a land of seals and sorrow
We kept waiting for the spark
So hail your kings and hail your queens
We're different, we're the children of the dark!
And then when the woman's voice cuts in, it's all people dressed up at concerts, smiling or making silly faces at the camera, and clearly having a great time dressing up and listening to music.

And that's it, isn't it? There is something kind of silly about dressing up in black lace and Victorian coats or strappy leather and vinyl. And who am I to comment? I dress like a mixture of a William Gibson character and a post-apocalyptic citadel denizen. But it's fun. That's why we do it. And sure, the beauty of the night and the emergent mono no aware inherent in decay, but sometimes I just like dressing up like the protagonist of Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines and listening to music like Another World or Deception or Burning Heretic or Ghost Love Score or Night of the Wolf.

I don't demand that everything I do justify itself on some cosmic scale anymore.  photo _thisorthat__or__compare__by_brokenboulevard-d4tole3.gif There are other things I can devote my emotional energy to. Like enjoying ridiculous music.

Lyrics of the Fayth

2016-Dec-24, Saturday 22:36
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
So yesterday I was looking up the lyrics of the Hymn of the Fayth from Final Fantasy X, and after a bit of searching, I found a page that listed them as:
Ieyui (pray)
Nobomeno (savior)
Renmiri (dream)
Yojuyogo (child of prayer)
Hasatekanae (forever and ever)
Kutamae. (Grant us peace)
And I thought that can't be right, unless it's an invented language. So I decided to look up 祈りの歌 (Inori no Uta, "The Song of Prayer"), the Hymn of the Fayth's Japanese title, and see if I could find more information on it that way.

The first page I looked at, I found this picture and looking at it, without reading any of the other text, suddenly everything made sense:

 photo AB95ECF9-E762-40B9-A30E-FA9FFE2C2FA8.jpg

Red and green added by me.

I always thought the words of the Hymn of the Fayth were nonsense, but apparently they're based on a syllable scramble! The song is sung from top to bottom, left to right, red part, then green part. That gives the lyrics above. But if you read it left to right, top to bottom, then it's actually Japanese and reads
Inore yo
Which translates to:
O Fayth
Without ceasing
Make us prosper.
That's where the lyrics above came from.

Of course, all this is in the wiki article about the song, so I could have just looked there. But I didn't, and I'm happy I figured this out.
dorchadas: (That is not dead...)
​I actually went to go see a movie together with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd! The last movie we watched together in a theater was...well, actually, it was あん, but before that it was The Golden Compass, way back before we moved to Japan. I'm not usually much of one for movies, and even less for movies in a theater.

So of course, we went to the theatre and saw it with orchestral accompaniment.

I've never seen E.T. before now. I know all about it because of cultural osmosis and because I read the novel adaptation, the same as I did with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But actually seeing it on the screen is different, of course, and I was a little...underwhelmed.

I have the wrong attitude toward E.T., is the problem. I get that he's supposed to be childlike, full of wonder at the world around him in addition to being kind of cute, but all I could think was "a species capable of interstellar travel on a scientific mission to a primitive world and they send this guy?" I can accept that he's confused by human tech, since the Asogians clearly use the Force as the basis of their civilization () and have some kind of collective intelligence, but that he's confused by everything? I had a hard time with that.

Though I did like E.T. trying random foods out of the fridge. It reminded me of all the complaints about scientists being idiots in Promethius.

I have some issues with the ending, as well. Elliot yells that MAJESTIC are killing E.T., but it's clearly not their fault. E.T. was dying before they even showed up, and G-Man was being sincere when he said they were doing everything they could to save him. It didn't work because the problem was separation from the Overmind, which would have killed E.T. even if MAJESTIC never learned about him. He revived when he was back in range, timed so as to create maximum The Power of Love feelings in the audience, but honestly I just rolled my eyes. Elliot is a kid, and medicine is scary to kids. It's all chemicals and sterile smells and tubes and pain, and often the feeling better part comes later enough that it's not easy to associate with the treatment. Of course Elliot thought MAJESTIC was killing E.T. And he did die during the treatment, so it's a reasonable conclusion for him to draw. It's just wrong.
I also liked the end, when E.T. wanted to take the primitive from a backwater world along as a pet.  photo 6-0faa7aa343f6c067899c8c2579e6ea91d335662e.gif

I liked it, but I have questions, is what I'm saying. I had a hard time with some of the premises and that interfered with my overall enjoyment. But I can see why it's so well-loved, and seeing it with live orchestral accompaniment was absolutely worth it. We had nosebleed seats, but I could still see the screen the conductor used, which had the movie playing along with some green or red lines that went across to keep time during important moments. The performance was superb, of course, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd mentioned that having live music meant that she had an easier time paying attention to the soundtrack and not letting it fade into the background. I agree--I know I complain a lot about video game soundtracks becoming more like movies and so becoming orchestral mush, but it turns out that if there's a real orchestra playing that music it doesn't fade into anything.

Much like the way to get me to eat pizza is to call it "flatbread" and charge $20 for it, the way to get me to see a movie is to have live professional orchestral accompaniment.  photo 3327b7f6b45a33781e80dce4e4461510-d4ipx9c.gif
dorchadas: (Chicago)
Not at the same time, obviously.

Yesterday, my parents came into town and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went down to meet them at the Shedd Aquarium. They're members and go a few times a year. They're much better about it than we are--while we were members of the Field Museum for the last year, I'm not sure we went once--and often we only end up going when they come in to visit. This time, it was pretty fortunate that we were meeting them. The line was out the door, down the stairs, and stretching out into the park in front of the aquarium when we arrived, but we were able to skip all that and just walk in the member's entrance.

Maybe everyone was trying to forget the election. There was a large protest downtown yesterday which my parents walked by. My father mentioned that he wasn't sure what good it would do, since Trump was a terrible person but he had won the election, so I pointed out that it's more to demonstrate that Trump doesn't have a mandate despite any claims to the contrary. Though I admit, in some ways I share his cynicism. I remember the Iraq War protests and how much effect those had.

We had tickets for the cetacean show at 5 p.m. so we didn't have a lot of time to look around, but we did hit some highlights. The otters for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, the special frog exhibit for me--that's a special exhibit of frogs, not an exhibit of special frogs --and the penguins for my mother:

"I solemnly swear..."

The cetacean show was a lot more focused than I remember it being. I think the last time I saw it was twenty years ago, and then it was much more about simple entertainment. This time there was a conservation message heavily woven through the show, including a rescue dog that the aquarium keeps. There were no dolphins somersaulting through hoops, but I think I appreciated the show more.

After a dinner at Chicago Curry House, where even my spice-averse parents found something they could eat--though since they have the appetites of birds, they were pretty much full after the samosas we ordered as appetizers--we said goodbye since we had to make our performance:

We first went to Symphony of the Goddesses in 2013 and this is the third time we've been. It's slightly different each time--the first time we went was the "Second Quest" arrangement that featured a medley of the music from Ocarina of Time, and the second time we went was the "Master Quest" and had a feature of music from Link's Awakening. This time was more similar to the first concert, though with the addition of some music from Triforce Heroes and A Link Between Worlds, both of which came out since the last time we went to Symphony of the Goddesses. There was also a piece I remembered from Phantom Hourglass, though I say "remembered" in the loosest terms since I can barely remember anything about that game. That didn't stop it from being a great performance!

I think the loudest crowd cheer was when the conductor reached into her coat, pulled out a perfect replica of the Wind Waker baton, and then started conducting the theme from Outset Island.

There was a little girl, maybe four or five, cosplaying Princess Zelda sitting in the seat in front of us. She fell asleep during the intermission and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd exploded from cute overload.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif
dorchadas: (In America)
I say finally because we missed them by twenty minutes at the last Flower Festival we attended in Hiroshima.

I have a bad habit of springing for concert tickets when I haven't actually listened to any of that band's recent albums. My record is probably the last time I went to see VNV Nation, 15 years after they released the most recent album I had actually listened to ("Empires"), and similarly the most recent Perfume album I've listened to is "Game," from eight years ago. As such, I knew basically none of the songs that they played.

Fortunately, they haven't changed their style. Perfume is technopop, or, as I think of it in my head, "What if Daft Punk was an all-female J-Pop band?" They just put out a new album, "Cosmic Explorer," and that's why they're on tour. And I didn't listen to any of it before coming, but I got to hear it live, so.

We arrived slightly late and came in to find that A-chan, Kashiyuka, and...the other one....were already on stage.

"The other one" is Nocchi, but I never remember that without looking it up.

Sadly, the drones flying in formation were only out for a single song, though they did later have an instrumental laser and patterns-on-metal-screens section that I liked a lot. There was a fairly long period after the first song where they talked about how this was their first time in Chicago and how much they liked Chicago pizza and how excited they were to bring their music to Chicago. Mostly in Japanese, with a volunteer member of the audience translating for them, and with the kind of super-genki enthusiasm that comes off as being mocking or disingenuous in America when adults do it but which is perfectly acceptable in Japan.

They also mentioned they hadn't been able to catch a Taurus in America yet, accompanied by a just-changed-enough-to-avoid-Japanese-copyright-law image on the screen of throwing a pokeball at a mangafied statue of the three of them.

Perfume is worth seeing live because, like a lot of similar groups, they have dance routines as part of their performance. And the dances are complicated enough that they take skill to perform, but not so obviously complicated that they're clearly lip-synching the whole time. Unfortunately, I don't know the names of most of the songs they did, so I can't really point out anything specific other than Next Stage with You. That link is actually to a car commercial we saw while we were in Japan in July and doesn't have the full song, but it has the chorus and everyone knows that's the important part of the song, right?

They ended with Chocolate Disco, the first Perfume song I ever heard and the only one in this performance where I knew all the words and could sing along. And then after the encore, which I don't even remember, we left and went home. It was great.
dorchadas: (Eight Million Gods)
You can tell Japan is a high-trust society with good social cohesion because the elevators hang around forever but close instantly when you press the 閉める button.

I woke up late, so after showers and breakfast again at Lotteria, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and decided to go to Sanjūsangendō again. But apparently everyone else had the same idea, because when we got to the 206 bus there were roughly a hundred people waiting in line to use it. Faced with that, we figured walking would be better, so we set out east. Fortunately, the rain that's been forecast nearly every day of our visit but that never materialized finally arrived, so it was completely overcast during the walk and thus not that hot.

Sanjūsangendō does not allow pictures inside the hall and since it's still an actively-used temple--there are spots for praying and priests inside taking prayer requests--I didn't try to sneak a picture. But I did get this image of the exterior:

With artistic tree in foreground.

Sanjūsangendō is [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's favorite temple in Kyoto, because it's the temple of 観音 (Kannon), and because it feels like an actual temple. Even though it's also a tourist space, it's quiet, it's dimly lit, the whole hall smells of incense and sounds of dimly-ringing bells, and stacked in row on row in front of you as you enter are a thousand and one statues of Kannon, five hundred on each side of a giant seated Kannon almost four meters high.

We walked the circuit of the temple, in front of the statues and then the back hallway where they held the 通し矢 (tōshiya) archery competitions. There's even a wooden beam exhibited that has dozens of arrowshafts sticking out of it, the remnants of ancient contests.

After a brief foray onto the grounds to take some pictures of the garden:

I love this gardening style.

...we went back to the hotel room to get ready for the Tenjin Matsuri in Ōsaka. That took a bit longer than I was expecting because when we got back our room was still being cleaned, but eventually we were all ready. "We" being [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, [ profile] xoDrVenture, and myself, since everyone else had already gone ahead to Ōsaka to visit the castle. We walked to the train station, got on the next Shinkansen bound for Shin-Ōsaka station, and we were off. After a tasty チキン南蛮お弁当 (chikin nanban obentō, "Boxed chicken lunch of the southern barbarians") scarfed down in ten minutes because Kyoto and Ōsaka are really close together, we arrived in Ōsaka.

I've only been to Ōsaka once before because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had to take her GRE here, so I went with her for moral support. I remember the Human Rights Museum, that the conbini had kimchi-ume onigiri, and that's about it, so unlike the other cities we've been to I really had no idea where to go. Fortunately, as we were looking at a map, an English-speaking train station attendant came over and asked where we wanted to go, and we got on the train with a helpfully labeled map of our destination.

I then promptly ignored it, because we had a bit of time before the parade and I wanted to go to check out 四天王寺 (shitennōji, "Temple of the Four Heavenly Kings") first, after reading that it was one of the oldest temples in Japan (built 593) and the first known temple to be built officially by the state. So we walked there, against the flood of schoolgirls leaving school that had just let out, and arrived in mid-afternoon.

Here's the gate to the inner temple:

Fūjin and Raijin, guardians of wind and storm.

I did not actually go into the inner temple, because they charged admission and also because it was heavily under construction. I thought there was some kind of ceremony taking place with pounding drums until I looked into the inner compound and saw the heavy machinery.

There were a lot of smaller buildings scattered around the grounds, and I would have liked to spend more time looking around except we were on a schedule and also construction, so we left after a bit and walked to the subway, where we hopped on and came up near 大坂天満宮 (Ōsaka Tenmangu) into giant crowds of people in yukata, festival booths, a guy handing out fans, and, of course, the parade:

This is right after they put the mikoshi down and then picked it up again.

We watched the parade long enough for a couple mikoshi and one extremely-upset horse to pass by, and then the other group told us that they had found a place by the river to watch the later boat procession, so we left and worked our way through the crowd, across the parade route, over the bridge across the water, and over to the stone steps where the others were sitting. Then the boats came out on the water.

One of about thirty boats.

The boats were mostly dragged by tugboats, but a few of them, like the foreground of that picture, were muscle-powered, prompting feats of oarsmanship and [ profile] tastee_wheat to say:
"I've never seen a boat do doughnuts before."
We watched the boats for about an hour and a half while the boat with the shamisen player, the boat with the bunraku performers, the boat with the dancers, and the various boats with oars doing doughnuts passed by. We were waiting for the fireworks to start, and they did start...further up the river and low enough that they were behind some buildings and we basically couldn't see anything at all other than some flashes on the clouds. After ten minutes of fruitlessly hoping they would move closer, we decided to give up and head home.

[ profile] tastee_wheat and [ profile] tropicanaomega split off while the rest of us wandered around looking for takoyaki. We eventually found some, as well as kara-age, pineapple on a stick, and chocolate-covered pineapple on a stick, and fortified with those we took the subway to Ōsaka Station, the train to Shin-Ōsaka station, and the Shinkansen to Kyoto. Hurray for the JR Pass.

Once we got back, we headed back to the hotel so [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and [ profile] xoDrVenture could change out of their yukatas, and then there was only one thing left to do:

I don't know why they have Nightwish, but I won't complain that they do.

One hour turned into two, then into three, as is the way with karaoke. Finally, we ended with the traditional "Bohemian Rhapsody," all said our good nights, and went back to our separate places of rest.

Steps taken: 19430
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
Over a year ago, I first wrote about my idea to run a Legend of the Five Rings game inspired by Game of Thrones. It seems like a perfect match--L5R players often talk about how the game is more about questions of loyalty and honor and conflicts between families than about finding more treasure and looting the bodies of your enemies, and from what little I know about L5R's history, going back in the timeline and rewriting the Scorpion Clan Coup a little bit--casting the Hantei as the Targaryens and Bayushi Shoju as Robert Baratheon--would allow me to keep a lot of the thematics intact. I mean, L5R even has the Wall. I want to use Shadowrun mechanics, because while SR4 has its problems, success-counting is simple and SR4's melee combat mechanics actually fit L5R dueling really well. Use adept powers as kiho, fit L5R's spells into SR4's magic mechanics with drain, etc. It could work.

But I haven't done any work on it at all, because I've been looking for the right theme song for the last year. Psyduck Well, also because of Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, but after seeing the draw of the Game of Thrones theme, I wanted something just as powerful and catching. And now, I think I've found it:

It only went up on Youtube less than a month ago, which I guess is why I had so much trouble finding a theme song before. I'd been looking for a cover of the Game of Thrones theme on koto, shamisen, and shakuhachi, the way that Famikoto does video game music using traditional Japanese instruments. And while this isn't quite that, I don't care. It has the perfect sound I've been looking for. Maybe I should get working on the mechanics now?

Or, uh, maybe I should actually read those L5R books I bought? V emoji smile
dorchadas: (Chicago)
Journey is one of those games I've always wanted to play that I knew I would never have a chance to. The main lifespan of the PS3 occurred while [profile] schoolpsycherd were in Japan, with it only being out for a short time before we learned that we were moving there, at which point buying one was kind of pointless, and when we moved back I had gone away from consoles almost entirely and [profile] schoolpsycherd was in grad school. And Journey never came out for any other platform (except PS4 recently), so I knew I'd never get the chance to play it.

Then I saw a Kickstarter for a musical performance to accompany it, the way old orchestras used to perform at silent movies. Unlike Symphony of the Goddesses, though, this would be a musical performance accompanying a longplay also performed live. It was pretty much as close as I'd ever get to playing the game, so I chipped in for two tickets and last night, we went to the performance.

The performance was fantastic! The musicians were a chamber group that usually work together, and you could tell. In addition, the musical score was adaptive--since the game was being played live, the musicians had to change what they were playing, possibly with only a measure's notice, and frequently did. Because of that, they all had iPads hooked up to bluetooth controls so they could switch pages back and forth at the drop of a hat. There was one section where they had to loop for a bit because the player got stuck under a ledge and took a while to get his head out from under it and find his way on top of the tower.

I've owned the Journey OST for years now. Maybe I should listen to it...

The actual game wasn't quite as profound, though. I've listened to several podcasts about it--this Incomparable is the most comprehensive, but it's come up a lot in other episodes here and there--and they all describe it as very moving experience. There was a question period after the concert where some audience members and performances spoke about it in similar terms, but I didn't get much from it other than beautiful visuals and sound. I loved the kind of soft post-apocalypse aesthetic the game had.

Maybe it's that I didn't play through it myself? I was talking with [profile] schoolpsycherd afterward about the impact of video games being that you perform the actions yourself, which is something that very few other forms of art can boast. If I were playing the game, then I would be making the journey myself. As it was, I were merely watching it, and while it was lovely I didn't dissolve into a crying fit the way some of the speakers at the Q&A said they did. Or the way I got misty-eyed when Symphony of the Goddesses played the Windwaker opening theme. That's not even my favorite Zelda game!

Still great, though!
dorchadas: (Default)
I'm sure that comes as news to none of you.

I was going to write about this in my New Year's Retrospective, but since I forgot it gets its own post. One of the other changes I made in 2015 is that I started listening to new music again. I only listened to the radio for about two years during the 90s when I was mowing my parents' lawn and needed something to listen to, so that's the sum total of my exposure to pop music. Once I went away to university and found Napster, I developed a taste of goth and industrial spurred by buying a copy of "Music from the Succubus Club," probably after seeing an ad for it in a Vampire: the Masquerade supplement, and that's what I listened to for a while. That fell away over time, though, and by the time I was living in Japan I didn't really listen to any music at all other than the ambient zone music when we'd play World of Warcraft. Even on my two hour each-way commute, I mostly slept.

That changed when I started working at the AMA and learned I could use headphones. Not too long after that, I found 8bit Peoples, an online repository of free chiptunes albums, and that got me into chiptunes. And then I developed a podcast addiction, and a few of the podcasts I added were music ones. I currently listen to:
  • The Irish and Celtic Music Podcast: I used to listen to a lot of Celtic music, but it fell almost completely out of favor in the last decade. This is still probably my least favorite of the music podcasts I listen to, but I've found quite a few gems.

  • This Week in Chiptune: When I found this, I went back over the course of a couple months of commutes and listened to every single back episode. Love those bleeps and boops.

  • Group Therapy with Above and Beyond: I think this showed up in the top podcasts category and I subscribed to it on a whim. There's a lot of stuff that's obvious way better to dance to than to listen to on the L, but I've found some surprisingly (to me) good songs, like this one or this one or this one. I skip past the four-on-the-floor stuff and don't miss it.

  • Space Radio: This updates only irregularly and has a bit of a variable quality, but I like it when it comes out. However, it did inspire me to find:

  • Communion After Dark: This one is amazing, and is probably another one that I'll go through the entire archives of. It's like being back at Dracula's Ball, and this podcast reminded me that bands like Diary of Dreams, Beborn Beton, Neuroticfish, Suicide Commando, et al still exist and are still making music. They have a relatively wide reach, though--this song showed up on the podcast and ended up being launched straight on to my cyberpunk playlist.

  • Steampunk Radio: I have no idea how this is "streampunk" or if it's ever going to continue after the first few episodes, but what I found is pretty neat. Like, this song--how is that "steampunk"? I mean, it's really good, but does it fit the advertising? Not sure about that.
That gives me plenty of weekly new music exposure.

Also, Bandcamp. It's not actually any different than poking around any other digitial music service, but for some reason I've taken to it more. I've found great stuff like Halfont 2 by William Kage (guy composes music using the soundfonts of 16-bit games, so they sound like lost tracks), I Am the Night by Perturbator (another for the cyberpunk playlist), The Spoony Bards by The Spoony Bards (shoutout to [ profile] stephen_poon!), Transmission Lost by Sjellos (I have a whole selection of albums that are basically low hums, groaning metal, and space noises set to music), Tome I by Erang (Bandcamp introduced me to Dungeon Synth as a genre)...I could go on. You can see everything I've bought here if you want an example of my modern musical taste.

I've also gotten heavily into Overclocked ReMix (edit:and its podcast) again now that they're posting more. They're a big chunk of what I listen to on my commute if I don't have any podcast updates, and I jumped on their Patreon as soon as they set it up--which also introduces me to new music, since one of the perks is that I get a free album every month from the selection on Overclocked Records, not all of which are video game related. Of what I've gotten, I can recommend the Tale of the Rat King OST by Tom Miller and Quixotica by .mpegasus. I admit, I haven't listened to as many of these as I should, but I just recently sorted them into their own playlist and once I put them on my phone, I can go through them.

This turned out longer than I thought. I guess it's a good thing I gave it its own post?
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
It's listed in the book as "chanas or chole," based on which ethnic group is referring to it, but the phrasing reminds me of some kind of Fremen ritual.

It's a chickpea kind of day. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to the symphony to see the Shen Yun Orchestra, which was pretty good, although I admit I preferred the original compositions over their performance of Western works. The best was Capturing Arrows with Boats of Straw--no recording, but the link explains the reference--and in trying to find a recording I learned that there's a yojijukugo (or rather, the Chinese equivalent, which Wikipedia tells me is 成语 chéngyǔ) written 草船借箭 (cǎo chuán jiè jiàn), which means using someone else's resources to achieve your goals.
Read more... )
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
Today is Overclocked Remix 15th anniversary!

I'm not actually sure how I first heard about OCRemix. I know I was in university when I started listening to it, and I'm almost positive that my acquaintance with them began with [ profile] sephimb telling me about "Terra in Black," which is still one of the best mixes on the site over a decade later:

My musical taste was different then, with a lot more goth and industrial music, but OCRemix found a pretty prominent place in WinAmp (remember that?) and I listened a lot to Ormgas, back before it went offline and was replaced with rainwave, which is much nicer since it has links to the songs and I no longer have to Google them and keep a Word doc full of links to download and sort later.

I lost track of it for most of the latter half of the 2000s, and I think activity dropped off on the website then too--they had 1000 mixes by 2003 but didn't reach 2000 until 2010. They're currently over 3000 (the 3000th song is quite good, as well) and still going strong, and they've gotten a much more prominent place in my listening rotation, which is almost entirely taken up with podcasts now but still consists of music to and from work.

Here's a few more of my favorites:

There's some guy's list of the Top 75 remixes I found, and while I haven't listened to all of them, there are enough on there I agree with that I can recommend the list as a guide.

Thanks for years of great music!


2014-Oct-31, Friday 11:11
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
Checking back through my archives, it doesn't look like I've told this story. I was listening to Raindancer by Erutan (or katethegreat19, which is the name I originally found her by on OC ReMix, though the fantastic The Rose General) and the lyrics reminded me of the last enkai we went to with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's co-workers.

The lyrics themselves aren't incredibly inventive:
I will always love you
I love you
and with this kiss I make this vow
to love you forever
Like birds of a feather we'll be
You with me
but they do lead into the story. At the going-away party, they told us about how they always admired us and were a little envious of our relationship. In Japan, the kind of obvious affection [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I have isn't common--and I'm not talking about PDA, I'm talking about stuff like saying "I love you" before falling asleep or before leaving for work, or when talking on the phone, which is when her co-workers would always hear it. Or how [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd made me lunch every day (and still does 💖). They called us 鴛鴦夫婦 (oshidori fuufu, literally "mandarin duck couple," but figuratively "lovebirds") and gave us a banzai as we walked out.

In many parts of East Asia, mandarin ducks are the model for married couples, since they supposedly mate for life and stay by each other's side, even in harsh weather.
Midnight sleep was broken
But no friend to brush away the cold tears!
I envy the Oshidori which has ever its mate by its side.
-Lady Dainagon, quoted in the journals of Murasaki Shikibu
And hey, we both stayed here during the last winter,

鴛鴦夫婦. That's us.

Here's the song if you'd like to listen:

Distant Worlds!

2014-Aug-25, Monday 18:56
dorchadas: (Slime)
Yesterday, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to the Distant Worlds concert in the Chicago Symphony Center. It opened with a performance of "Hymn of the Fayth" with soloists and a full choir, and they had me hooked from the beginning.

Well...kind of. My interest in the concert kind of resembled a valley. Since I never owned a Super Nintendo nor a Playstation, I skipped out on most of the Final Fantasy games after Final Fantasy I. I think the next game after that I played was Final Fantasy VI, and that wasn't until university. I didn't play Final Fantasy IV until five years ago (the DS version), and while I did play Final Fantasy VIII and IX, most of the music doesn't really stick in my head. They played the music from the Final Fantasy VII opening and I didn't even recognize it. I've never played FFXIII nor any of the spinoffs, nor FFXIV, so that whole section was nice, but it was just more orchestral music. For the first half of the concert, I only really checked in for To Zanakand, Eyes on Me, the aforementioned Hymn of the Fayth, and the Chocobo Medley, which had quite possibly the cutest chocobo babies I've ever seen.

I admit that music from the later Final Fantasies is definitely easier to set to orchestration because it's not the same 10-15 second clip over and over again, but I would have liked to see arrangements of Matoya's Cave or Temple of Fiends. Looking it up online, it looks like they did a lot more of that for the 25th Anniversary celebration two years ago--and where the only concert for that in North America was in Chicago grr why didn't I know about it (T^T)--but other than FFX, I don't have much emotional resonance with the later Final Fantasies.

Now, having said that, the entire second half after the intermission was one long string of Final Fantasy VI songs, and that part was great. From the character medley, which sadly didn't include Cyan's Theme but was otherwise excellent, to Dancing Mad done with a giant pipe organ, to a new arrangement of Balance is Restored (called "Reviving Green" there, according to Nobuo Uematsu's wishes, to a fully orchestrated Opera scene with three soloists, a narrator, and choral accompaniment, the second half definitely did qualify as hooking me from the beginning.

And then they ended with the Final Fantasy I Opening playing over the credits and did a medley of the battles themes as an encore. Well done.

It was a good concert and I'm glad I went, but I think what I actually want out of a Final Fantasy concert is full band live versions of Final Fantasy IV: Echoes of Betrayal, Light of Redemption and Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin. As it was, I had a better time at Symphony of the Goddesses back in November than I did at Distant Worlds. That's probably because I've played more of the major Zelda games than Final Fantasy games, though--not playing VII at all means there's a huge chunk of the fandom I'm not connected to.

As a slight digression, Nobuo Uematsu was not at all what I expected:

That's him there playing the organ part on Dark World from Final Fantasy VI. He looks like...well, he looks like a sushi chef, honestly. I was expecting more of the typical Japanese sararīman, with the mandated black suit, white shirt, black tie, and no individuality whatever. You know, what the guy who was there from Squeenix was wearing.

I was kind of tempted to yell out "植松さん最高!" after he did his "solo" (whistling the victory theme), but I restrained myself.

I'm not sure I'd want to go to Distant Worlds again, unless it has a lineup covering more of the earlier games. Or if they're doing a Final Fantasy X focus. The 15th anniversary of that is in 2016, so I can hope! And I did learn that there's a chamber music version called A New World, which sounds like it might be more up my alley. I'm not sure I realized I wanted Baroque or Classical versions of Final Fantasy music until I wrote that sentence, but now I definitely do. Anyone know where I could find them?

I think what I really want is a Xenohearts Trigger: the Music of Yasunori Mitsuda series.

VNV Nation!

2014-Apr-27, Sunday 00:02
dorchadas: (Death Goth)
I just got back from tonight's concert at the Vic Theatre. The last time I saw VNV Nation was almost nine years ago. I actually have a blog post about it, though in the classic fashion of my much earlier posts it mostly takes the form of long-form rambling about my daily life. On the other hand, it's nice that I still have it. That's why I keep posting here instead of migrating somewhere else--continuity.

Anyway, some history. I discovered VNV Nation back in university when I left home, got on a consistent internet connection, and found Napster/Audiogalaxy/Kazaa. I had bought Music from the Succubus Club in high school, and that was my entrance into the world of goth music, and on finding that Dracula's Ball took place in Philadelphia I ended up dragging everyone along in my wake. Anyway, VNV Nation was one of the bands I found in my trawling the interwebs for goth music, specifically after I found a 9/11 tribute which is still online holy crap, and I'm pretty sure the files I have on my computer are still the very same ones I found all those years ago.

And that's all I have. I haven't kept up with anything VNV Nation has done since I first found them, and even at the first concert we went to I didn't know half the songs. How much more so now when I've missed everything after Matter + Form and really only know the songs from Empires? Despite that, when they started playing I felt right at home. I mean, compare Darkangel (from Empires) and Primary (from last year's Transnational) and you'll notice a continuity of sound that a lot of bands wouldn't maintain over 15 years. Compare the Crüxshadows in Jackal Head (Telemetry of a Fallen Angel, 1995) and Sophia (Dreamcypher, 2007), for example.

Oh, relevant to that, I should preserve this comment for posterity:
European law forces us to have a sexy techno pause in every track.
Maybe that also explains the stylistic continuity?

There were two songs they played that I knew. Legion, which has always been one of my favorites, and Perpetual, about which I have a somewhat funny story. See, I had this thing where I'd go find a huge mess of music, grab it and say "Oh, I'll listen to it later," and then sometimes not get around to it for ages. I still have an "Unlabeled Music" subfolder in my Media folder which...still has songs in it. I should get on that.

Anyway, in Japan when we got iPhones, I stuck all my music on my phone and listened to it to and from work, and discovered a lot of fantastic songs I didn't even realize I had. That's how I found "Perpetual," when I was staring out the window on the way to Suzugamine and thought, "Whoa, wait a minute? What is this!?" Tonight, it was the last song VNV Nation played at the concert, apparently a tradition. That makes me wonder if we had stayed longer at the first concert, would I have heard it then?

I don't listen to nearly as much goth music nowadays. It used to be the vast majority of my repertoire, but nowadays it's all trance, video game soundtracks, and chiptunes. Tonight's concert and nostalgia is tempting me to make another playlist and put it on my phone, though. Especially listening to "Jackal Head." I used to listen to that kind of stuff all the time.
dorchadas: (Zelda Twilight Princess)
Specifically, at this symphony:

About two months ago, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I were listening to the Top Score podcast when they had an episode about something called the Symphony of the Goddesses where they interviewed Jason Michael Paul (the guy behind the Dear Friends concerts) and Jeron Moore about the original four-movement symphony they had written based on the Legend of Zelda. "Huh," I said, "that sounds neat, but this was a back episode of the podcast and so we missed the concert they had in Chicago. I wonder if it's coming around again?" So I jumped on the internet, did a search for it, and found that they were holding a new concert series this year! In a couple months, in fact, and starting in Chicago!

Obviously, I got on that.

After an initial problem buying tickets ("$150!?! Oh, wait, what happens if I unclick 'best available..."), I secured [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my place up in one of the balconies and waited, and the concert occurred last night.

The program is here, but it's not super informative. Each movement of the symphony was essentially a medly of each of four games--in order, Ocarina of Time, Windwaker, Twilight Princess and A Link to the Past, and while the concert was going on, footage from the game was broadcast on a screen behind the performers. There were also individual songs that encapsulated other games. After the overture at the beginning, for example, there was a song dedicated to Link's Awakening, and just after the intermission they played the Gerudo Valley theme. The actual music was provided by the Chicago Philharmonic and Bella Voce, with all the quality that implies. It was exactly as great as I was hoping it would be.

Oh hey, here we go. See for yourself!:

It's not the same musicians, but it's the same songs.

My favorite part was definitely the A Link to the Past section, both because it's my favorite Zelda game by far and because they did a good job of sticking to the 16-bit feel of the original music while still making it obvious that this was bing performed by a full orchestra (jump forward to around 1:17 in that video for the ALttP section), but the Gerudo Valley theme was also a hit because it's objectively the best Ocarina of Time song. I actually don't even remember what the songs they performed for their encore were because the ones I already mentioned are the ones that stuck in my memory.

It was also the first concert I've been to that had cosplayers, which wasn't surprising considering the subject matter. On the other hand, we were at a formal symphony held in the Chicago Theatre, so it was a bit jarring seeing people dressed up like Zelda or Link climbing up and down those stairs.

Finally, I'll end with this: The Zelda Project. Not related to the music in any way, but it's people trying to photographically recreate scenes from Ocarina of Time and doing a really good job of it.

Ooo, neat

2007-Oct-03, Wednesday 10:57
dorchadas: (Death Goth)
Nightwish is performing at House of Blues at the end of the month.

[ profile] softlykarou is working that weekend and would hate me forever if I went without her...but how long is forever, really? :-p

Mmm...juicy tidbits

2007-Sep-19, Wednesday 20:09
dorchadas: (Iocaine Powder)
So, I just read an article in Science News about how, in some cases, obesity may be contagious. Apparently, there's a certain virus which can convert stem cells into fat cells. In the experiment they did, 30 percent of obese test subjects showed antibodies related to the virus. Apparently, though, the virus is only contagious for a few weeks.

This is partially my axe to grind, since I think America would have a lot fewer problems if people wouldn't use "Well, they should show some personality responsibility!" as code for "They're disgusting, subhuman and aren't worthy of our help."

Why I hate Terry Goodkind:
Now with textual support!

The series started out okay, but rapidly descended into thinly disguised BDSM and torture porn, ultra-capitalism wanking / Ayn Rand fandom, and "any ends justify the means when the Ubermenschen do it!" pseudo-justifications for the heroes brutal and capricious mass murdering of their "enemies," which include peaceniks, 8-year old girls, rape victims, and communist Muslimsthe Imperial Order. Also, Richard overthrows an evil socialist empire by carving a statue imbued with the power of CAPITALISM!!111!1!!

The link there has a bullet point list of a lot of the "OMGWTF" moments in the series, complete with direct quotes from the books.

This weekend's Within Temptation concert was amazing. Sharon den Adel is a lot shorter and cuter in person than she looks in the band's music videos. She also sings just as well, which is really impressive considering the stuff you can do in a recording studio. My only complaint is that they didn't play It's the Fear, which is probably my favorite WT song.

I've gotten into Neverwinter Nights and Xenogears more lately. The first because I can play it with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I never beat it originally, and the second because I've owned it for close to two years and still haven't beaten it. Hopefully that'll change soon, and then I can finally beat FFVII. Just in time for the new PSP to come out and me to play Tactics.

Woo gaming.
dorchadas: (Jealous)
...for their first-ever US tour.

And it is going to ROCK.

7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the House of Blues in Chicago, if anyone else wants to go.
dorchadas: (Gendowned)
So, while Ultimate yesterday was awesome, my muscles today are doing a fabulous job of telling me that I shouldn't have played it. At length, and with some vigor. While I'm more in shape than I was (I didn't get excessively tired during the game, and I didn't need a break, or even really to sit down, after it was done), I'm not as in shape as I thought. With more Ultimate games forthcoming, though, hopefully that should get better soon.

As a show of solidarity with my muscles' pain and anguish, I will share with you the most emo video ever made.

If anyone can out-emo that, please post it. I'm curious. ^_^
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
So, I've gotten pretty used to handling the phone calls from work. Even though it's technically one of my duties to answer the phone, I've always considered it a distraction from my real work (read: writing). I've finally gotten used to people calling in to ask information that would be easily available if they'd just open one of our papers for once--though this is excused for PR reps who live several states away--but today I had possibly the most annoying phone call ever. The person, who apparently couldn't be bothered to look through our classified listings, wanted me to go find her a list of property sales, which was easy since they were all conveniently labeled "Real Estate Transactions," though apparently she was unable to comprehend such an esoteric labeling system. When I found her the information, she wasn't patient enough to wait for the page to load, so she asked me to fax it to her. When the fax didn't go through, she called back and asked me to do it again. I managed to get her e-mail address, and e-mailed it to her. Her reply was "THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME" *sigh*

I've been obsessively listening to the song below. Unfortunately, it's of dubious provenance. I know it's in Russian, and the place I've found it from has a translation of the lyrics, but since it's not the official translation I have no idea if it's right, nor can I use those lyrics to find the original. Searching for the title doesn't really bring up anything either (except a Russian piano player's website).

Only three weeks left until the wedding...
dorchadas: (Angst)
So today, one of the sports writers, who had worked at the paper for something like 30 years, left. They had a big party, with cake, people telling stories about their interactions with him, and apparently, they're all going to a restaurant later.

I was struck, as it was going on, that they definitely aren't going to do the same thing for me when I leave. Even leaving aside the fact that I haven't worked there very long, no one there really knows me very well. It's mostly my fault--I think my perfect job is one where I don't actually have to interact with anyone, so I don't tal kto the reporters much when I don't have to--but still, it's a little depressing. I'll also have a hard time being noticed for promotion in future jobs if people actually interacting with me bothers me. :p

Oh, and [ profile] t3chnomag3, I listened to those samples. I was right--I should buy their CD. Here's Within Temptation's MySpace page, if you want a comparison.


dorchadas: (Default)

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